Center Line’s Lapham remembered for service to city

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published January 10, 2020

 Ron Lapham, a longtime resident of Center Line who served the city as a police officer and as an elected member of the City Council, died Dec. 29. In October, he told the Warren Weekly that he relished his role as a liaison between city departments and the people he represented.

Ron Lapham, a longtime resident of Center Line who served the city as a police officer and as an elected member of the City Council, died Dec. 29. In October, he told the Warren Weekly that he relished his role as a liaison between city departments and the people he represented.

Photo by Brian Louwers

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CENTER LINE — As a city councilman, Ron Lapham often cast a dissenting vote against the majority. Sometimes, his was the lone vote against.

But those who knew him said his concern for the best interests of all Center Line residents was always foremost in his mind, and that it was genuine.

Lapham, 77, a nearly lifelong resident of the city he served first as a police officer and later as an elected official, died Dec. 29.

Prior to his 14-year tenure on the City Council, Lapham spent 12 years with the Center Line Public Safety Department and was the department’s first K-9 handler. He also spent 13 years with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

In October, Lapham told the Warren Weekly he grew up in the city’s Kramer Homes housing cooperative and that he served in the United States Air Force on active and reserve duty during the 1960s.

During the most recent City Council campaign, Lapham said that he relished his role as a liaison between city departments and the people he represented. He knew just about everyone, and liked being able to help his constituents by connecting them with the people who could give them answers.  

“He loved this community and everything he did was for the love of this community. He grew up here and then he served in an elected position. That was always on his mind,” former Center Line Mayor Mary Ann Zielinski said. “He really did his homework. I’m very proud of him. He was a good man. He was a good officer, and just a good friend.”

Zielinski recalled a conversation she had with Lapham when he was scheduled for surgery, shortly before he died.

“We had a nice long talk, reminiscing about old times and some of the things that happened in the city and that type of thing,” Zielinski said. “We talked about the past. One of the last things he said to me was, ‘As soon as I’m back on my feet, I’ll be in touch.’”

She said he relayed a story — it was the first time she’d heard it — about the time he was called out while serving as a police K-9 officer to assist with the investigation into Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance.

“He got a call from the State Police asking him to come down and use the dog, asking him to see if the evidence they had would lead them to where they were trying to find Hoffa,” Zielinski said.

City Manager Dennis Champine said Lapham “always served the city very well,” even though they sometimes disagreed on city matters.

“He was always looking out for the city’s best interests,” Champine said. “He will be missed.”

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